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Independent voters may be the deciding factor in determining the winner of the hotly contested California State Assembly 61st District Race. The Press-Enterprise is reporting that this race is among the most competitive assembly races in California. The candidates for the newly created 61st assembly district located within western Riverside County in Southern California are Democrat Jose Medina and Republican Bill Batey.
According to the California State Registrar of Voters, Independent voters comprise 15 percent (31,709) of the registered voters in the 61st Assembly District. 43 percent or 88,086 are registered as Democrats, and 37 percent or 77,009 are registered as Republicans out of 204,725 total registered voters.
Comprising a 15 percent share of the electorate, in addition to the Presidential candidates strong appeal for independent voters to vote, Independents might well decide who the next assembly member will be.
According to Medina’s campaign website, “Sacramento politicians have neglected our community for too long. I’ll fight for Riverside County schools, families, and small businesses every step of the way.”
Batey states on his website “Partisan decision-making affects local governments, small businesses, families, and working people and the gridlock that has resulted has influenced me to run for the 61st Assembly District.”
The candidates differ on their stances on a host of policy positions. The first of these is on job creation. Batey states that the best way to create jobs is a market –based solution in which Sacramento decreases taxes on small businesses. He also sees long-term welfare as part of what is limiting job creation. Medina discusses a more state-centered approach which focuses on California-based job creation initiatives.
The candidates also differ on how to handle the enormous budget problems facing Sacramento. According to Medina’s website “During these challenging times, we need to do more with less. We must prioritize economic recovery and workforce development to get our region and state back on track.” He states that he has a strong commitment to sustaining programs including ongoing support to local governments, schools, public safety and social programs. Batey discusses his emphasis on reducing spending and demanding audits be conducted to eliminate waste in state programs.
According to the Los Angeles Times California is facing a budget deficit of over $16 billion. The California State Assembly is the lower house of the California State Legislature and is responsible, along with the California State Senate, for approving the state’s annual budget after it is submitted by the governor and heard in various committees.
It is also worth noting that in recent years the legislature has failed to approve the budget by California’s legal deadline of June 15. The budget crisis has lead to multiple millions of dollars in spending cuts as well as a myriad of higher taxes. It has lead to numerous cuts including millions to California schools and universities. The California State University System, one of the two public university systems in California is facing over 500 million in budget cuts this year. The University of California, the state’s second university system is also facing cuts of 500 million.